How to make Buttermilk and Home-made Butter

Browsing many recipes in many cookbooks, I more than once found buttermilk as a main ingredient. The question arose swiftly: what’s buttermilk? Because in Italy it’s something impossible to find. Then, when one day my uncle from London called me to tell me to try Nigella’s Buttermilk Chicken Drumsticks, I realized it was the moment for me to have buttermilk in a way or another. I therefore started my own personal research and I found out that buttermilk can be made at home. Bingo! Moreover, it’s so easy that you don’t need to be a cook: anyone can do it. All you need is some fresh cream, the one you whip. In fact, buttermilk is but the kind of milky liquid you obtain from the separation of the fat matter from liquid when making butter (therefore the name buttermilk).

The process is simple: you start beating the cream in a bowl with electric beaters; when the cream is whipped, you keep beating for about 10-15 minutes till you see that the liquid is separating from the cream (be careful because it will squirt everywhere). At this point, a good quantity of liquid is in the bottom of the bowl and the cream has become thick. Well, this thick cream is butter, real butter. All you have to do now is to take the butter (which is very soft) in your hands and squeeze it over a bowl to take out all the buttermilk in there. The whitish, opalescent liquid you have is buttermilk.

The butter now must be washed under running water to remove all the liquid and let it dry in a strainer over a bowl or something similar. You’d better let the butter dry for a night. In this way you can have both butter and buttermilk at the same time.

From 250 ml of cream you’ll obtain about 120 ml of buttermilk and 100 g of butter.

Home-made butter can be kept refrigerated for a couple of weeks, while buttermilk must be consumed within 3-4 days.

Come fare il latticello e il burro fatto in casa

Sbirciando diverse ricette su diversi libri di cucina, mi sono più volte imbattuta nel latticello come ingrediente principale. La domanda è sorta spontanea: che cos’è il latticello? Perché in Italia è una cosa che non si trova. Quando poi mio zio mi ha chiamato da Londra per dirmi di provare la ricetta delle cosce di pollo al latticello di Nigella Lawson, ho capito che in qualche modo dovevo procurarmelo. Ho cominciato quindi la mia ricerca personale e ho scoperto che il latticello si può fare in casa. Bingo! Inoltre, è così facile che non bisogna essere cuochi: tutti possono farlo. Tutto ciò che serve è panna da montare fresca. In effetti, il latticello non è altro che il liquido che si ottiene dalla separazione della materia grassa da quella liquida durante la preparazione del burro.

Il procedimento è semplice: bisogna iniziare a montare la panna con la frusta elettrica in una ciotola; quando la panna è montata e ferma, bisogna continuare a montarla per 10-15 minuti fino a quando non vedete che il liquido si separa dalla panna (attenzione perché schizza dapperutto). A questo punto, sul fondo della ciotola vedrete una discreta quantità di latticello, mentre la panna sarà diventata solida. Beh, questa panna solida non è altro che burro, vero burro. Tutto ciò che bisogna fare ora è prendere il burro (che è molto soffice) tra le mani e strizzarlo sopra una ciotola per tirare fuori tutto il liquido biancastro e opalescente, che altro non è che latticello.

Il burro adesso va lavato sotto l’acqua corrente, in modo da eliminare tutto il liquido, e lasciato asciugare dentro un colino possibilmente per tutta la notte. In questo modo si ottengono sia il burro che il latticello in un colpo solo.

Da 250 ml di panna si ottengono circa 120 ml di latticello e 100 grammi di burro.

Il burro fatto in casa si può conservare in frigo per un paio di settimane, mentre il latticello va consumato entro 3-4 giorni.


  1. Laura said:

    Rita, thank you so much for this recipe! I have never figured out how to substitute buttermilk in Italy! Thank you!

    • Rita said:

      I’m glad you like it!! I was desperate because I couldn’t find buttermilk here!! Now you know how to do it… 😛

  2. Rita, a friend of mine gets her milk from a farm and she sometimes gives me a gallon. I skim off the top cream and make butter. The rest is buttermilk. It is thin and therefore it is not the same as what we buy in the U.S. in cartons. That buttermilk is cultured, so it is thick, something between milk and yogurt. In fact, you could substitute half milk and half yogurt to obtain a similar (but not exactly the same) tanginess and consistency of American style buttermilk. The buttermilk in your picture looks thick though, so I’m not so sure it is what I think it is!! How’s that for some half-baked information 🙂

    • Rita said:

      Oh, maybe the picture isn’t that clear, but the buttermilk I get isn’t thick at all. It’s very thin, like milk diluted in water (I don’t know if I’m clear). What is you see is a sort of scum on the surface because I hadn’t filtered it. I was told it’s possible to substitute buttermilk with half milk and half yogurt but it’s not the same. Next time I make it, I’ll post a clearer picture: I promise!

      P.S. Thanks for your explanation! I love to know about American commercial products!
      P.P.S. How lucky you are to have real milk from the farm!!!! (yes, real, because the milk we buy has nothing to do with a farmer’s fresh milk!

  3. That butter looks heavenly. Is it bad that I just want to pluck them from the bowl and eat them as is?! :-p I absolutely love it. I usually eat butter with a side of bread. Not the other way around. :-p

    • Rita said:

      Oh, this butter is divine! I love to make my own. You can even season it with salt, parsley or anything that comes to your mind, because it’s so soft when you make it!

  4. Oh I love this! Even though we do have buttermilk in stores, I am reluctant to purchase for a recipe because I never use the entire container. It’s amazing how simple some dairy products are to make.

    • Rita said:

      To tell you the truth, I’d make EVERYTHING at home because I’m not so fond of commercial products. Anyway, I totally agree with you. Many foods are easy to make at home, so why not give it a try? It’s so satisfactory! 😛

  5. summersher said:

    Great job, Rita!!
    It’s sort of like a fun science experiment, huh?

    • Rita said:

      Definitely yes! Too funny!! 😉

  6. stephanie said:

    what kind of panna? panna da cucina? please lmk!!

    • Rita said:

      The panna mentioned here is panna da montare because it is necessary to whip the cream, or panna in Italian, to separate buttermilk from butter.

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